A Comprehensive Guide to the SOC for Cybersecurity Report

  • January 11, 2024

Emily Bonnie

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Secureframe


Rob Gutierrez

Senior Compliance Manager at Secureframe

On average, a new cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds

As cybersecurity challenges grow more complex, the information security teams tasked with protecting their organizations against this onslaught of threats need structured, robust tools for assessing and reporting on their risk management programs. 

The AICPA’s SOC for Cybersecurity offers organizations a comprehensive framework for assessing and communicating their cybersecurity risk management efforts. This framework is not just about compliance — it's a communication tool that builds trust with stakeholders by sharing how cybersecurity risks are identified, assessed, and managed.

Whether you’re trying to decide if you need a SOC for Cybersecurity report or want to understand how it differs from SOC 2, this blog post will guide you through the essentials. 

What is a SOC for Cybersecurity examination?

Introduced in 2017, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) designed the SOC for Cybersecurity standard to help organizations demonstrate a strong cybersecurity risk management program. While other auditing standards within the SOC family are designed for specific service organizations, the SOC for Cybersecurity report is open to organizations across industries. 

A SOC for Cybersecurity examination is when a neutral third party (auditor) evaluates the effectiveness of an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program and information security controls. At the end of the audit, the auditor delivers an attestation report that summarizes their findings and opinion on whether the service organization satisfies SOC control criteria.

Types of SOC Reports

SOC (System and Organization Controls) reports were created by the AICPA to help service organizations build and demonstrate a strong information security posture.

There are several types of SOC reports:

  1. SOC 1 Report: Focuses on controls at a service organization that may impact clients' financial reporting. There are two types:
    Type I: Assesses the design of controls at a specific point in time.
    Type II: Assesses the operational effectiveness of controls over a period of time.
  2. SOC 2 Report: Assesses a service organization’s cybersecurity controls against five Trust Services Criteria: security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy. Like SOC 1, SOC 2 has both Type I and Type II reports.
  3. SOC 3 Report: Assesses the same controls as SOC 2, but the final report is designed for a general, public audience. SOC 3 reports provide a less detailed summary of the service organization’s internal systems and controls and the auditor's opinion about the effectiveness of those controls. While SOC 2 reports are generally confidential documents only shared under NDA, SOC 3 reports are general use reports that can be shared publicly.
  4. SOC for Cybersecurity: Offers a structured, measurable cybersecurity framework for businesses that typically wouldn’t qualify as “service organizations”. 

SOC reporting frameworks allow organizations to share information about their cybersecurity risk management programs and the effectiveness of their controls, building trust with prospects, customers, business partners, and investors.

What’s the difference between SOC for Cybersecurity and SOC 2?

SOC for Cybersecurity involves a high-level evaluation of the entire organization’s cybersecurity risk management program. The final report is for general use of a broad audience and assures interested stakeholders that the organization’s cybersecurity programs are well-designed and effective. Unlike a SOC 2 report, it does not include sensitive data and can be shared publicly. 

On the other hand, a SOC 2 report involves a focused and in-depth assessment of a service organization’s controls against the AICPA Trust Service Criteria.

The Ultimate Guide to SOC 2

Learn everything you need to know about achieving SOC 2 compliance fast. 

SOC for Cybersecurity assessment requirements

Like all other SOC reports, a SOC for Cybersecurity examination is performed by a licensed CPA or CPA firm. SOC for Cybersecurity is divided into two criteria: 

1. Description Criteria

Management’s Description of an Entity’s Cybersecurity Risk Management Program: This is a narrative description written by the organization’s management. It’s used to design and describe the organization’s cybersecurity risk management program, and by CPAs to assess as part of the final SOC for Cybersecurity report. This description includes: 

  • How the organization identifies information assets
  • How the organization identifies and manages cybersecurity risks that threaten those information assets
  • Key cybersecurity control processes and policies implemented to protect the organization’s information assets against those risks

2. Control criteria

There is no specific set of baseline controls for SOC for Cybersecurity. Organizations can use their preferred cybersecurity framework, such as ISO 27001 or NIST CSF.  During the SOC for Cybersecurity assessment, CPAs use the AICPA Trust Services Criteria for Security, Availability, and Confidentiality to evaluate the controls within the entity’s cybersecurity risk management program.

  • Security: Protecting information and systems from unauthorized access, disclosure, and damage.
  • Availability: Ensuring the accessibility of the system, products, or services as stipulated by a contract or service agreement.
  • Confidentiality: Protecting confidential information as committed or agreed.

The final SOC for Cybersecurity report includes three elements: 

  1. Management’s description of the entity’s cybersecurity risk management program. Including this document in the final report provides the context needed for those reading it to understand the conclusions made by management and the auditor. 
  2. Management’s assertion: Also written by organization management, this document states whether the Management’s description satisfies description criteria and whether internal controls are effective in supporting the organization’s cybersecurity objectives. 
  3. Practitioner’s report: This document contains the auditor’s opinion on whether the Management’s description is presented in accordance with description criteria and whether the controls within the entity’s cybersecurity risk management program were effective based on control criteria. 

Business benefits of getting a SOC for Cybersecurity report

Organizations that obtain a SOC for Cybersecurity report gain several advantages, from stronger cybersecurity risk management practices to more efficient business operations.

  • Stronger security posture: The SOC compliance process helps identify weaknesses in an organization’s security posture and pinpoint unaddressed risks, reducing the risk of exploited threats and costly data breaches.
  • Improved operational efficiency: A SOC for Cybersecurity audit doesn’t just tell you where your security and risk management practices can and should be improved — it also pinpoints ways you can streamline your organization’s controls and processes, allowing you to make improvements that increase efficiency within your organization. 
  • Enhanced credibility: SOC reports provide expert, third-party validation of your cybersecurity and risk management programs. They assure both internal and external stakeholders that your organization’s cybersecurity measures are comprehensive and effective.
  • Competitive edge: Organizations with a current SOC report gain a competitive advantage by demonstrating their commitment to protecting customer data. And because SOC for Cybersecurity is a relatively new framework, the ability to publicly share an audit report with prospects and customers can give you an edge over competitors that don’t have one.

Automate compliance with SOC frameworks

Secureframe’s leading GRC automation platform streamlines compliance with dozens of in-demand frameworks, including SOC 2, ISO 27001, NIST 800-53, NIST 800-171, HIPAA, and PCI.

  • Quickly identify organizational risk and define risk treatment plans with AI-guided risk assessments
  • Use a library of policy templates to streamline policy creation and ensure compliant documentation
  • Automate evidence collection to save hundreds of hours of manual work preparing for annual audits
  • Easily share documents with your auditor in a secure data room to simplify the audit process
  • Get expert support at every step, from scoping your audit to receiving your audit report

If your organization needs a SOC report, schedule a demo to learn how Secureframe can help you get audit-ready in weeks, not months.

Use trust to accelerate growth


SOC for Cybersecurity FAQs

What is the SOC standard for cybersecurity?

The SOC standard for cybersecurity refers to a framework provided by the American Institute of CPAs known as SOC for Cybersecurity. This framework helps organizations communicate relevant information about the effectiveness of their cybersecurity risk management programs.

What is the difference between SOC for Cybersecurity and SOC 2?

SOC for Cybersecurity and SOC 2 are different frameworks under the AICPA guidelines. SOC for cybersecurity is a reporting framework that allows organizations to present a general overview of their cybersecurity risk management programs. It's broader and does not follow a set of predefined control criteria. In contrast, SOC 2 is specifically designed for service providers storing customer data and focuses on evaluating an organization's internal controls related to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy based on specific Trust Services Criteria.

What is a SOC for Cybersecurity examination?

A SOC for cybersecurity examination is an engagement where an independent auditor evaluates and reports on an entity’s cybersecurity risk management program. This examination includes assessing the design and effectiveness of cybersecurity controls, processes, and practices.

What is the purpose of SOC for Cybersecurity reporting?

The purpose of SOC for cybersecurity reporting is to provide stakeholders with a detailed understanding and assurance about the organization's cybersecurity risk management program. It informs stakeholders about how the organization identifies and manages cybersecurity risks, the effectiveness of its controls, and its ability to respond to and recover from cybersecurity incidents.

What is the SOC for Cybersecurity audit?

A SOC for cybersecurity audit is a rigorous assessment conducted by an independent auditor to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s cybersecurity risk management program. The audit examines the organization’s cybersecurity policies, procedures, controls, and practices, ensuring they are properly designed and operating effectively to mitigate cybersecurity risks. The result is a SOC for cybersecurity report, assuring stakeholders about the organization’s cybersecurity risk management capabilities.

What is SOC in cybersecurity?

SOC in cybersecurity refers to a Security Operations Center. It is a centralized function within an organization employing people, processes, and technology to continuously monitor and improve an organization's security posture while preventing, detecting, analyzing, and responding to cybersecurity incidents.

What is a Security Operations Center (SOC)?

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a unit within an organization that deals with cybersecurity issues on both a strategic and technical level. Its primary role is to assess, identify, monitor, and defend the organization against risks and cybersecurity threats.

A SOC consists of information security professionals, compliance experts, and specialized technology to detect, analyze, and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents.

The Security Operations Center helps reduce organizational risk in several key ways:

  • Strategic Risk Management: Create and implement strategies for identifying, assessing, and mitigating risk
  • Threat detection and incident response: Minimize the likelihood and impact of data breaches and security incidents, and be prepared to respond to any incidents or threats
  • Industry and Regulatory Compliance: Ensure and prove compliance with any relevant cybersecurity frameworks and regulatory requirements
  • Cost and Operational Efficiency: Improve operational efficiency and avoid the costs associated with data breaches, fines, and remediation